Telemedicine… What is it?
Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.
So, what exactly is Telecommunications Technology? According to the American Telemedicine Association, telecommunications can include internet, wireless, satellite, and telephone media.
Why are we talking about this, and why are we offering it at Family Physical Therapy Services through our Hero Healers division? Simply put, because access to physical therapy care is becoming harder and harder. Costs are rising and access to care is more difficult because of busy schedules, geographical barriers, or mobility issues. We’ve been witnessing first hand a steady decline in a patient’s ability to receive physical therapy, results in prolonged disability associated with injuries and poorer outcomes following rehabilitation or surgery.
Because our practice was built on providing the best services that we can to our patients, we felt that it was our duty to find a solution to this problem. What we found was telemedicine. It is the next wave in healthcare because it’s a natural progression in the ever-changing digital world in which we live. Nearly everyone has a smartphone, computer or tablet. People want instant answers and instant access.
Convenience isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity. And if you can’t deliver, people will go elsewhere. Keeping all that in mind, and considering the many issues relative to access of care today, it’s no wonder that many consider telemedicine not only a viable, but a primary solution. Just look at it’s chief benefits:
- Improved access
- Cost savings
- Quality and continuity of care
- Patient satisfaction
You can’t have much better access than when using telecommunications (i.e. internet, satellite, wireless, and telephone) As the user of this service, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home or office. You can interact directly with your provider. That means no travel time or costs; no lost hours from work or family; no long drives, weather hazards, or traffic jams; and improved ability to be in command of your own life and schedule. Experience less stress and a much happier life.
Consider the cost. As telemedicine systems are perfected,direct costs (such as overview) will decline and user participation will rise. The cost of delivery will become less as will the cost of your actual visit.
And what about the often-forgotten indirect costs of getting to and from an appointment? There is the gas, road charges (tolls), parking fees (where applicable), and wear and tear on your vehicle. Isn’t your time worth something? How about the time away from your family or the time away from work? What does it really cost you when you have to use your vacation time to go to medical appointments…mentally and financially? Or when you don’t get paid for the time away from work and it cuts into your pay check. Either way that’s a big cost. A 30-minute, $50 appointment could turn into a several hour ordeal with indirect costs easily in the hundreds of dollars. By accessing your care remotely, you eliminate those indirect costs, saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars and numerous hours of your very valuable and limited time.
Quality and continuity of care
With telemedicine, and according to the American Telemedicine Association, research has proven that the quality of services delivered via telemedicine are as good as those given in the more traditional in-person treatment settings. You already have a relationship formed with your provider and you will be receiving that same high level of service with your usual provider, but without interruption because of missed appointments. That means steady progress towards achieving your healthcare goals and getting back to living the life you want to live and doing the things you want to do with the people you want to do them with.
So many reasons have already been mentioned which factor into one of the most important reasons to use telemedicine for your healthcare needs – patient satisfaction. You can’t go wrong when your provider is looking out for the things that matter most to you:
- Your overall health and wellbeing, and your ability to alleviate the pain and limitations associated with injury or disease without setbacks or delays.
- Your money, or more specifically, your ability to save money because of the decreased costs, both direct and indirect, to you.
- Your time, and the importance of not wasting it on travel, delays, or other unnecessary reasons.
- Convenience, and the ease of not having to leave the comfort of your own home or your office in the middle of the day or when weather or transportation problems arise, as well as the simple scheduling processes.
Telemedicine is being used around the globe by millions of people worldwide. In fact, over half of US Hospitals are using some form of telemedicine and this number continues to climb. President Trump recently expanded the reach of telemedicine for veterans. According to his announcement in August of this year (2017), “last year we had 700,000 veterans who got telehealth services through the VA”. This number will continue to rise. Family Physical Therapy Services and Hero Healers will be reaching out to veterans and veteran groups across the states of NH and MA in efforts to improve physical therapy services for this grossly underserved and very worthy group of men and women and their families.
HIPAA and HITECH compliant
Telemedicine is safe when the organizations providing the service abide by the HIPAA and HITECH (confidentiality and security) regulations and adhere to certain guidelines and standards of best practice. Family Physical Therapy Services and our telemedicine division Hero Healers do just that. We are both HIPAA and HITECH compliant. This means your PHI (personal health information) is confidential and secure, and we only do business with providers who take this responsibility seriously as well.
Recently passed parity laws require that private insurers cover telemedicine the same as they would cover in-person services, which means that your physical therapy visit would be handled and billed in the same manner as if you were to attend the visit in a traditional physical therapy facility. The benefit to you is that not only do you NOT have to worry about insurance billing (we do that for you), but you don’t have to leave home or your office. No more lost time out of your day or no more added costs of travel on top of it all.
Our Hero Healers program is a web-based program that provides consumers access to our services over the internet using email, voice, and televideo. All you need is an internet connection. Scheduling is easy. And because we value your privacy and the security of your information, our televideo service is provided through Chironhealth, one of the top-rated companies providing convenient, safe and secure communications in the telemedicine industry. HIPAA and HITECH compliance means that your personal and health information remains confidential and secure! Televideo provides you with the opportunity to see and speak directly with your Hero Healer and they in turn get to see you and have you perform valuable activities. This will help them better identify the imbalances and restrictions that are contributing to your present symptoms.
If you would rather contact a Hero Healer via email or voice, don’t worry, we utilize HPE SecureMail for email services and Jive for our voice. Again, both are safe and secure methods of communicating with your physical therapy professionals.
Who benefits from Telemedicine?
Do these sound familiar?
- I don’t have time to schedule an appointment.
- The office is not convenient for me.
- The traffic is always bad.
- It takes too much time out of my day.
- I only have 45 minutes for lunch.
- I can’t leave work.
- I’m going to be out of town.
- My son/daughter has a game/appointment/recital/practice.
- I’m too busy.
- I don’t want to drive in this weather.
- I don’t have a ride.
- My car broke down.
- I have to stick around for the cable guy.
You get the picture.
Patients come in all shapes and sizes, and health issues don’t take holidays or have days off, or care about what insurance you have, or whether you have the ability to go from point A to point B, or what kind of financial shape you are in. When you are hurt, in pain, and worrying about taking time away from your busy family or away from an unending work schedule you want answers. You want options. Options that can save you time and money….and worry. But still get the job done. Telemedicine, and the ability to receive treatment and guided care by expert physical therapy professionals remotely can help you with ALL of these issues. So, if you would like to know more, we have the answers.
Care givers benefit
Are you responsible for the care of a friend or loved one? Do you have a family member who is recovering from surgery or an injury and needs your help? Are you “the” person who helps run the errands, takes them to their appointments, helps them clean up or prep meals, does the laundry and provides for them in so many ways? You name it and you do it.
But how can you do all of their “stuff” and still get all of your things done? How are you supposed to take more time off from work without alienating your co-workers, losing a client, or God forbid losing your job? This person really needs your help and you love them to pieces, but how are you supposed to be in two places at the same time?!
Telemedicine allows your loved one to receive the care in the comfort of their own home. You won’t need to do the transporting, and they won’t be feeling guilty about putting you through so much trouble. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If we could tell you how your loved one can receive care in their own home without you having to be in two places at one time, would that be of interest to you? All you have to do is reach out and contact us. It’s that easy.